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Essex in the 1881 Census

Search for your ancestors in Essex in the 1881 Census and discover a detailed snapshot of their life at the time.

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Essex in 1881

The 1881 Essex Census collected the following information: full name, exact age, relationship to head of household, gender, occupation, parish and county of birth, medical disabilities.

Much of Essex was transformed by the development of the railways in the 19 th century. With its proximity to London, Essex became a favourite destination for holidays and many of the seaside resorts such as Clacton and Frinton-On- Sea, grew as a direct result of railway lines connecting them with London. With the railways, Essex increasingly became a home for city workers choosing to commute rather than live in the smog of London.

Having been largely dependent on agriculture in the preceding centuries, the Industrial Revolution brought a new level of efficiency and wealth to Essex.

The winter of 1881 was extraordinarily cold, similar to many others parts of England that experienced the great blizzard in January 1881. In Southend, it was cold enough for the Southend Park lake to freeze over for a length of time, which made ice skating a popular evening pastime for the townsfolk.

Colchester experienced a significant economic boom in the late 19 th century, with a particular focus on engineering. Just one year after the 1881 census the famous Jumbo water tower was completed, which still dominates the skyline.

Find Your Essex Past

Whether you are searching for your ancestors or researching local history, Findmypast has extensive records from the Essex county in 1881 ,so you can be sure to find the piece of the past that matters to you.

To search the census returns, simply input the information you have about your relatives into our search bar and hit search.

With options to search by name, location, birth place, birth year, location and so much more, filtering out the many Victorian era Essex inhabitants is as easy as clicking a button.

For example, if you have a relative with the surname Smith who you know lived in the county, just enter Smith in the “Last name” field and Essex in the “County” field and you’ll get these search results

Using the transcripts of the census provided, members can then inspect the original images of the census enumeration books, which will help validate findings and expand family trees.

Notable Names

While searching for your ancestors in Victorian Essex, you may come across certain names that stand out or in some cases, places. The famous mansion Audley End House in Saffron-Walden can be found in the 1881 census, where no less than 92 people are listed, most of whom were employed by the manor.

Perhaps your ancestors were employed by C T Hicks “Farmer of 695 Acres, Employing 21 men & 5 boys”, whose daughter Amy Hicks would grow up to become Amy Bull, suffragette and friend of Sylvia Pankhurst.

Search Tips

The original documents will have been given to your ancestors some time in advance before collection on April3rd.

As illiteracy was still common, third party “enumerators” will have written on many people’s behalf, which could lead to some errors in the transcripts. This makes it of vital importance to check the original images.

Beware other inaccuracies such as wrong birth dates. Our search function allows a margin of error of two years, you can adjust this further if you wish.

There are 551,835 Essex Victorians waiting for you in the 1881 Census, so we wish you the best of luck in your search for the ones that have contributed to your family history!

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